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Unplugged Smoked Rye Ale | New Glarus Brewing Company

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very good
157 Reviews
Unplugged Smoked Rye AleUnplugged Smoked Rye Ale

Brewed by:
New Glarus Brewing Company
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Smoked Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by beerwolf77 on 01-17-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 157 | Ratings: 244
Photo of Prostman81
3.4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poors a nice, almost ruby color, with a slight brown tint. Nice malt aroma, no hop presence, and a definite wallop of smoke.

First impression when drinking is the dominant smoke flavor. Like smoked bacon except more earthy. The smoke doesn't linger, and you can get a feel for more of the malt background, but each time you sip, that smoke just erases the palate again and puts itself firmly in place.

I rate the mouthfeel a 3....this, to me, is one heavy beer. I actually feel full after drinking just one, and then I don't want any more beer. I understand heavy beers have their place, but the heavyness along with the smoke are just too much in my opinion.

I appreciate the perspective from NG on this; the brewer wanted to make a smoke beer with rye (noted for its incredible body-enhancing properties, not its 'spiciness' as a lot of folks believe). They definitely nailed both aspects. However, this is just not something I'd drink again, or encourage the non-smoke beer initiated to try out.

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Photo of jegross2
4.29/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing the Unplugged Smoked Rye Ale from New Glarus Brewing Company.
Score: 91

2011 vintage bottle served in a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep amber/dark mahogany color. Very hazy and opaque with lots of highlights around the core the beer's body. Pours a third a finger of head that completely settles save for a thin ring around the glass. The actual lacing of the beer is very average. 3.5/5

Smell: Big aromas of smoked, smoldering hickory woodchips. Incredibly peaty. The beer smells like I am sitting around a campfire, smoking meat for a BBQ! Very peaty. Spiced rye bread comes through as well. Toasted caramel malts too. 4.5/5

Taste: Tastes very similar to the aroma. Very complex, smooth and balanced. Front and finish is prominently smoked hickory and quite peaty. Definitely get some rye flavors too. Roasted caramel malts on the mid-palate. As the beer layers on the mid-palate, the caramel malts get a little sweeter. Some bready yeast on the mid-palate too. A little earthy spiciness. Alcohol is completely hidden; I was shocked to discover this one was 8.5% ABV. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, light carbonation. Finish is slightly sweet. 4/5

Overall: I finally found a beer by New Glarus that I can not only say that I legitimately enjoyed, but also which stands up to a lot of its midwest microbrew counterparts. New Glarus certainly deserves a kudos for this one! I must try more brews in this style.

Recommendation: This is a ridiculously smooth, complex and balanced beer in both flavor and aroma. I recommend it all around.

Pairings: BBQ Brisket Sandwich on rye bread or, as I am eating it, a whole wheat bagel.

Cost: $2.99 for a single 12 oz bottle, or $10.99 for a four pack.

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Photo of mrand01
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz poured into a Duvel tulip. Shared with nicoco.

A: Pours with minimal head. A cloudy chestnut brown. Leaves a very thin ring of lacing that quickly fades.

S: Smoky & peaty, like a fine Islay single malt. Rye is hard to detect under all the smoke/peat.

T: Liquid smoke. Lots and lots of peat malt. The deceiving part is, this does not taste or feel as strong as it is. The taste hangs around for a while.

M: Medium bodied, at best, with minimal carbonation...just enough to be slightly prickly.

O: Well, if you're into smoked beers, but you're not in the mood for a stout, this would be right up your alley. Huge peaty taste, yet surprisingly drinkable.

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Photo of nrbw23
3.89/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a nice, clear dark amber color with a fairly thin white head. Head has little retention and leaves no lacing.

S- Smell is pretty awesome. It smells like a smoked roasted ham sandwhich. A bit of sweetness, smoke, and meat.

T- Taste is a good mixture of sweetness and smoke a great balance. A bit of brown sugar, smoke and meat dominate. A great use of malts and a nice char taste.

M- Medium in body and a tad on the higher end in carbonation.

O- This is a very solid beer. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I'm just not quite sure how often I'd could drink this, and could not have a few of these in a row for sure.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.33/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

In my Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche tulip. Thank you, Mike.

A beautiful clear beep amber with a dense, off-white head with excellent retention and lacing, this is a good-looking beer. The nose is moderately smoky with caramel, light brown sugar notes, a little vanilla and a nice, earthy, leafy hop character. A little rye is noticeable as well. Mildly fruity and mildly nutty as well. It's not as smoky as a rauchbier, but fairly smoky.

The palate is surprisingly boozy with a definite alcohol bite, coupled with a mild smoke character. There's a moderate sweetness with honey, sugar, toasted rye bread and caramel. Drying on the finish with a lingering bitterness, caramel and vanilla. Light in body with medium-high carbonation, this beer is decent. While not the best Unplugged beer I've had, I'm still enjoying drinking it. Critically, though, it's not terribly good.

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Photo of greenmonstah
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear red-brown with some murkiness. A tiny wisp of head is all you get.

S - Smoked meats and gouda-like aromas dominate. It's a wood smoke, like an applewood or something. Smells just like a smoked gouda.

T - "It tastes just like it smells. DELICIOUS!" Smoked malts and a bit of a spicy rye characteristic. An almost medicinal sweetness is present as well.

M - Medium body, sticky with sugar and a lighter, drier finish.

O - Overall an interesting beer that exemplifies smoke in a good way. Nothing game-changing here, but a good beer altogether.

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Photo of Yagman3000
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to fellow BA CosmicEvan for passing this along. He gave it a C and thought it was a smokey mess but I'm giving it the college try by pouring this 12 oz. bottle into a Chimay silver-rimmed goblet. Let the festivities begin...

Appears as a cross between brown and ruby red. A small pleasant head of foam, about a quarter inch, remains. I hope it will lend a creaminess to its mouthfeel. Nice looking.

Smells of smoke in a strong but not overpowering fashion. I feel like I'm picking up on a little of the rye through its malt.

Tastes less overpowering than I thought it would be. I'm surprised by its sweetness. I do taste rye here (I enjoy Canadian Whiskey and High Balls especially) and think this is pleasing.

The mouthfeel is understated in a good way. I like the finish here also. There's no booze burn at all despite its 8.5%.

Overall I'm happy I tried it and I'd certainly rate it an above average beer. I don't know if I'll ever encounter another one but I'd gladly accept it.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Buddy brought home a bunch of beers from New Glarus. The Smoked Rye Ale poured a light amber with a faint haze. Half finger head faded to a wisp rather quickly. Smell included lots of hardwood smoke with an underlying caramel malt sweetness. Taste had malt some sweetness, spicy rye, and smooth smoke that stay in pretty good balance. Finishes dry and smokey. Mouthfeel was medium/full bodied with a nice smooth carbonation little too much ABV. Overall a decent beer.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.49/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. Style tick #99.

A: Clear dark copper body under a finger of fine tan foam; mediocre retention, light lace. Gorgeous color, but a bit underwhelming in terms of head.

S: Smoke dominates the aroma (predictably), with delicate cherry-wood notes joining the straight campfire. Beneath the smoke is some lovely rye malt sweetness and spiciness, as well as a bit of dark fruit. Complex, aromatic, and lovely.

T: Smoke shows up right away, but is quickly joined by deeply flavorful rye that's bready, spicy, and even a bit tart, as it evinces a vaguely raisin-like fruitiness. Woody smoke dryness finishes things out. Alcohol does shows up noticeably on the finish, which is about the only flaw I can find in this lovely beer.

M: Thick and rich, with a nice amount of fine, late-developing carbonation. Despite its heft stickiness is kept to a minimum. Perfect for such a big beer.

O: I enjoy smoked beers on occasion, but usually find their one-note approach boring after a while (even in great examples like Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche). This beer, happily, combines the authentic smokiness of Bamberg with greater depth of maltiness than usual, and the rye really seals the deal with some terrific complexity. This definitely isn't a brew for the faint of heart, but if you like smoke and you like rye, you'll love it.


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Photo of beagle75
3.45/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a becker glass.

A: Clear, dark amber color with less than one finger of cinnamon-tinted foam head. Moderate lacing remains on the glass and scattered solitary bubbles rise in the column.

S: Wood smoke dominates, slightly musty, with some lesser caramel and rye bread also present. Fruit is very faint, possibly existing just as a component of the smoke. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins off-dry, with simplistic caramel malt accompanied by fairly potent wood smoke from which some of the residual sweetness seems to be derived. Acidity is a bit overstated, refusing to let the savory flavors mature on the palate. The middle is very clean, showing minor earthy qualities that seem to be from the leftovers of the smoke. Estery fruit develops gradually, remaining predictable even at its most noticeable. Fennel seed develops into the finish, proving transient and short-lived. Other later flavors are mild and uncomplicated, including the bitterness. The smoke qualities are reestablished, lingering late. No alcohol is detected.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, slightly sticky on the palate but also palpably acidic into the middle, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: Quality wood smoke elevates this amber ale beyond what it otherwise would have been. Aside from the smoke, it is malt-dependent to the point of being boring and forgettable--but never challenging. Note to New Glarus: This beer isn't special enough to be sold in four-packs.

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Photo of ne0m00re
3.18/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

09/11/11- Review of 12 oz of this courtesy a kind trader.
A: Clear copper, thin cream head.
S: Smokey peppered bacon, rye bread... interesting orange citrus syrup.
T: Caramel smokiness, sweeter, green spinach hops, nice bread... cough syrup campfire with cranberry sauce. Interesting.
M: Creamier than expected and thicker, which is a good match for the taste.
O: Weird. Nice to try and well done, but not for a regular beer.

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Photo of mdwalsh
3.63/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice golden amber with a too small (less than one finger) soda like head, but good active carbonation. Sits a slightly murky brown in the glass.

S: There is a strong smoke smell with a slight sweet undertone. Maybe a very little roast or even chocolate behind there, but very little. The smoke might be overbearing, or at least for this particular version of smoke it is.

T: Still way smokey, but it's a little different, and there is a little more sweetness. The chocolate from the smell is gone, this is a little more of a tootsie roll chocolate I might expect from a Belgian Quad. Still very smokey. And there's nothing really porter about it. I know porter seems to have become the de facto smoked style in America, but then you have to hold some porter like qualities.

M: lighter, smooth, perfect carbonation.

D: The smoke is just too much here. I would maybe say yes if I was eating some grilled meats, but on it's own...nope.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to northyorksammy for the box of Wisconsin brews! Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Spirit Sippers snifter.

Clear rust liquid with a hint of burnt orange capped with a small active beige head. A thin collar remains as the head fades away. Delicate sandy lacing and viscous legs.

Heavily smoked malt notes - on par with Aecht's rauchbiers - suffuse the nose. Some fruit and toasted malt come across as well.

Low but pervasive smokiness throughout the flavor profile, accompanied by apples, toast, and layers of malt. Gentle peppery rye notes emerge in the finish. Rich yet docile. The turbinado comes out as a vague molasses/toffee/burnt sugar combo in the finish.

Somewhat creamy yet light-bodied overall with modest carbonation.

A unique smoked beer - a bit fruitier/sweeter/softer than most rauchbiers, but still deeply savory.

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Photo of cosmicevan
2.97/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

big thanks to yeahnatenelson. enjoyed in my E snifter.

a - opened and poured a nice subtle semi clear brown with a reddish tint. head was thin and an off white bubbly, gone quick leaving just a ring.

s - good big roasted smoke. nice char. really just all smoky so much so that it is a bit rubbery even. great for the fan of smoke, not so great for the folks who don't dig smoke.

t - leads with rubber. aftertaste is band aides. i'm a huge fan of smoke but this might be a bit too over the top for me. i don't get anything that isn't peaty smokiness.

m - a bit thin, leaves a bit of a tingle.

o - overall, a bit of a one trick pony...this one is just smoke. so much so that it becomes a bit of a turn off. the smoke flavor is a bit rubbery and peaty and that's all that is there. should be called smoked smoke as the rye is wasted on this beer since it is hidden.

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
3.89/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours incredibly red out of the bottle but less red looking in the glass where it is more orange-red and light brown. The pour looks very thin. A small quickly dissipating off white head hurries off as if it late for a bus. An extremely nice smoke aroma easily dominates the nose reminding me of my years covering day old fires for local TV News. First sip is smoking but not overly so. First sip - Sure the smoke dominates like the nose but it is not over powering. As the smoke hits first, there is a rye malt finish even though the smoke lingers as well and compliments the rye. Very light bodied and just enough carbonation to make it work though a tad more carbonation would be desired. The 8.5% ABV is well hidden. Pretty damn nice.

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Photo of SkitzIrish3
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours ruby brown with modest head that eventually leads to a thin layer of lacing. Light carbonation. Very clear.

Woody, smoky rye aroma.

Good toasty malt presence that leads to the ever increasing spicy smokiness that reminds me of some smoked deer jerky. High alcohol level is well hidden within the smoky haze, but is still there to add more to the beer.

My first smoked beer but it seems to be very well done. Goes great with a burger with BBQ sauce. I would guess that this beer isn't very sessionable either. Very interesting style that I will have to try again soon.

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Photo of Fluke828
3.52/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Big thanks to makdeco for this one!
12oz bottle -> Duvel Tulip
No phreshness info

A-> Zero head. Aggressive pour too. Plum colored with a ring of lace that is persistent along the rim of the glass.

S-> Does smell smoky. Would have to agree with Kevin below on the campfire scent. Smelled sugary and sweet when I was pouring it but now that it is standing and I am taking a few sips it is pure wood smoke on the nose.

T-> Wow. Right there with the nose. Just in your face smoke, like drinking liquified wood ash. Just a spicy smokey flavor that hits right away and fades to a pleasant sweetness that becomes more and more pronounced as I sip this one. Almost off-putting at first with the bitter smoke flavor but after palate acclimation this thing ain't bad! Some kind of underlying spiciness that I can't quite place but it suits this beer very well.

M-> Sweetness really getting to me a bit. Sugar/syrup sensations taking over. Not bad by any means but could be toned down a bit.

O-> Was initially puckered by this beer but it gradually grew on me. The smokey flavors/aromas really melded well with the burnt malt sweetness and the underlying spice. Would absolutely enjoy this more in another month or two or at least on some kind of camping excursion up north in the woods. Labor Day Weekend by the beach may not have been the best setting for consumption but hey, too late now... Definitely not what I'm used to but have to change it up once in awhile. Cool take on a different style. Cheers!

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Photo of kzoobrew
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to my man Carleton for this bottled. Cheers!

Clear amber body, no sediment or haze. Two finger malted milk colored head rests atop. Retention is decent, the head slowly works its way back. Nice sheet of lacing clings to the walls of the glass.

Holy smokes! There is a little bit of smoke there. Very much a campfire aroma. The smoke buries many of the other scents making you work to find the more subtle notes. Spicy rye and soft bready aroma. Slight caramel aroma buried beneath. The aroma becomes more balanced with warmth but is still smoke dominant.

The flavor displays a great deal of balance right off the bat. Big sweet flavor matches the smokiness. The campfire like smokiness carries through from the nose. The sweetness is rather rich and caramelly. A nice rye spiciness is blanketed by the sweetness.Soft herbal hop flavor lingers in the background. To be honest, these flavors are not something I usually look for in a beer but they work very well here.

Medium to full bodied beer. Carbonation is a smidgen under moderate. The texture is somewhere between syrupy and creamy without really being either. Long finish, the sweet and smoky flavors dig in and linger on the tongue.

Interesting and enjoyable beer. The layers in the aroma and the balance of the flavor are impressive. I am not sure I would want more than one in a sitting but I am certainly enjoying the one I have in front of me. A great beer for a crisp fall day.

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Photo of 7ways
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark tea color with a nothingth of a head.

Sweet and fresh smokey aroma, dirty old wood. To me most smoked beers smell like something that has been smoked, whereas this one actually reminds me of smoldering wood.

There is an immediate sugary taste that backtracks abruptly, revealing very complex smokey, earthy, and spicy notes. The sweetness is still there the whole time to round it out. Fresh apple cider flavor on the finish. Like most NG beers, this is remarkably clean despite so much going on.

Much more dense than I expected, almost too much. It would be better if it was not so sweet.

Very interesting smoked beer. I'd buy it again just for the aroma.

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Photo of glid02
4.07/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Dan – thanks!

Pours a copper-brown color with a tan head that leaves solid lacing.

Smells of heavy caramel malts with hints of toastiness and good amounts of spicy rye. Also present are good amounts of smokiness and mild amounts of floral and herbal hops.

Tastes similar to how it smells, though not quite as balanced. Smooth caramel malts with hints of darker toasted malts up front are joined quickly by moderate amounts of meaty smoke. Midway through spicy and earthy rye flavors work their way into things before they’re pushed aside by earthy hops that carry through to a moderately bitter ending. Mouthfeel is OK, with a lighter body and decent carbonation.

Overall this was a fairly well done beer, the smokiness didn’t overpower things and the rye had a chance to shine. Worth a shot.

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Photo of zeledonia
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tasted 20 Aug 2011, reviewed from notes.

Pours a deep mahogany reddish-brown, very clear, just a bit of head that's gone pretty fast. The lacing is odd - it's like legs, with a thin layer of the beer sticking to the inside of the glass, way beyond when I expect it to.

Smell is smoky and a little malty. Heavy on the smoke - at first mostly like a campfire, but as it warmed up it started to smell meatier, like smoked salami.

Taste is like smoked ham. It has a deep charred smokiness, like real charcoal. Then comes a rich chewy meaty flavor. The smoke is dark and rich, and dominates everything about the flavor. But there's no sharpness to it - it's surprisingly smooth for a smoked beer.

Mouthfeel is thick but fairly flat. Honey-like and sticky, I can see why it was clinging to the glass (it does the same thing on the inside of my mouth).

Flavors are good, it rather one-dimensional. I wasn't a big fan of the mouthfeel, and that brought the overall enjoyment down for me. An interesting, smoky, meaty beer - but more interesting than truly enjoyable.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Somewhat muted tone of copper with a slim, active, firmly foamed crown of dark beige. Not much lace sticks, a few thin strings and sporatic spots decide to grab at the glass.

Lovely aroma of sweet tangy smoked meat and bready malt. Much like a fresh jerky of beef or dark turkey.

Taste is tamed down compared to the aroma as it's much more balanced and toned within its tang of meaty fresh smokeyness while the bready slick malt keeps it oily and lucid. The rye notes are toasty way in the background but there with a semi crispness around the edge of the overall tangy smokey meat tone.

A very well balanced medium body with a slick, oily, creamy, boldness of firm malt and tangyness that builds gracefully with its smokeyness and rye noted crispyness.

Another damn solid effort in the Unplugged series at NG. Keep 'em coming!

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Photo of mynie
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Seems an appropriate followup for the Knotstock black pepper IPA.

Pours a little translucent for a rye. Smells a little translucent, too: big, meaty, tasty smoke, but not that much by way of rye complexity or even beeriness.

Tastes a good notch better than it smells. The smokiness is like a Swiss Colony sampler and it dominates the front end. This gives way to a very thick beeriness that's like a combination of an old ale and a rye. Thick caramel, rye bread, smoked cheese, prunes, and aggressive yeast.

I like this just a wee bit better than Three Floyds' Ham on Rye. But when two of the country's very best brewers both go all out on a beer style of have it come up as definitively "okay" as this, maybe it's a sign the style ain't so great.

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Photo of billab914
4.24/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into my Three Floyd's glass. It poured dark copper in color with a thin white head barely covering the top of the beer. The head faded and clung to the edges of the glass where it left some moderate lacing as I drank it.

The aroma has a nice smoke presence to it. It's a very rich, smooth smoke flavor that I'm really liking. I get a little of the bready, rye flavors mixing with a sweeter, malty, slightly caramel like flavor. The smoke steals the show for me though.

The taste starts off with more of the malty, sweet flavors with a touch of the caramel to it. Midway the smoke really starts to come out and intensifies right through the finish. Again I'm loving the smoke, it's very flavorful but yet smoother then most smoky beers.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and carbonation is on the lower side. I really loved the smoke flavor to it. It was definitely one of the smoothest beers with a big smoke presence I've had. Fantastic beer overall and pretty close to the best smoked beers I've had. I'm not sure if I like it better then Smoked Porter but it's close.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another bottle shared with Tony (ahalloin), thanks again.

A: Pretty light brown with gold highlights and some lacing.

S: Very outdoors-y smell with a lot of smoke like an open campfire and a layer of meat like ham (on rye). Very nice peat and a little-little heat in the nose as well.

T: Huge smoky taste, lots of charred malt and the rye is really an amplifier for the smoke and char. Nice meat flavors too. Also, a touch of brown sugar to top it all off.

M: A little thinner, but the smoke helps make it interesting still.

Overall a nice beer, but would be very hard to drink in large amounts for me.

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Unplugged Smoked Rye Ale from New Glarus Brewing Company
3.79 out of 5 based on 244 ratings.
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